The Beatles Psychedelic Trilogy – Part 2, Mescaline and LSD
In 1967 the Beatles’ produced their undisputed masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This is the Beatles’ mescaline album. It is a radically different departure from anything that had come before. It produced a world of its own, a world of sounds and sonic textures never heard before. Its very form was drastic as it had no singles, no spaces between the individual songs, sound effects, enough of an overall theme to be considered an early form of concept record and already a strange run out groove at the end.
The world of Sgt. Pepper’s was one of bright colors and mirrored or rule the world from a gray suited existence with black and white television, magazines and already motion pictures to one of technicolor movies, color photos in magazines, color television and the acceptability of grown men to choose clothes in colors other than black, gray, brown or Navy Blue.
The songs on Sgt. Pepper’s include the metaphor for an acid trip, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, another surreal sounding song about a carnival (as metaphor for a psychedelic experience?), Being For The assistance Of Mister Kite, and a song with an instrumental interlude that is the sonic interpretation of astral projection or “tripping out” or entering “into a dream”, A Day In His Life.
Again, as with Love You To on Revolver, George Harrison delved into Indian music and this time didn’t just rely on the sound to convey a sense of spirituality but had the lyrics to match in Within You Without You.
Paul McCartney got accused of writing a song about hard drug use with Fixing A Hole but the fans did tend to get carried away although there is no denying that Ringo states that he, “gets high with a little help from my friends.”
An undeniable psychedelic masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s is nevertheless only the Beatles mescaline high. The complete force of their trip was however to come.
Magical Mystery Tour is the Beatles’ acid trip album. Substitute the information “tour” in the title for the information “trip” and you’ll have a better representation of what this record is really all about. Like a true psychedelic experience this album wasn’t planned as much as just unfolded. One side of the American release is the EP soundtrack to the Beatles’ television special which premiered on the BBC on the English holiday of Boxing Day. The second side is a collection of their recent singles. Taken one at a time over the time of the past year the individual songs might not have seemed all that strange but putting them side by side their uniqueness is what gives them their continuity. You couldn’t plan this.
Side one begins with the introduction to the “tour” which is promised to be a rare experience already if no one can tell you exactly where you’ll go or what you’ll do. It is a mystery.
The Fool On The Hill has been interpreted as being about American politics but clearly the fool is someone simply not focused in the same reality as those observing him. Another tripping metaphor.
The instrumental, Flying, could be the soundtrack for anything but it’s titled “Flying” which could refer to traveling by the sky, dreaming or again, as a synonym for tripping.
George’s Blue Jay Way doesn’t have any of his East Indian sounds but just sounds stoned nevertheless.
John Lennon’s two greatest psychedelic masterpieces are on Magical Mystery Tour; I Am The Walrus and Strawberry Fields Forever. Taken as two individual singles released at different times of the year diffuses their strength but packaged together on the single album guarantees Magical Mystery Tour the Beatles’ most psychedelic album and the LSD finale of their psychedelic trilogy.